More than 5.70 lakh children in Gujarat malnourished: Govt data

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Gandhinagar, Feb 7 (PTI) More than 5.70 lakh children in Gujarat are malnourished, the Gujarat assembly was informed on Wednesday with the government listing various steps being taken to improve the situation.

Responding to a set of questions raised by Congress MLAs during Question Hour, Women and Child Development Minister Bhanuben Babariya informed that out of 5.70 lakh malnourished children in the state, nearly 4.38 lakh children are underweight, while 1.31 lakh fell in the 'severely underweight' category.

Notably, the highly-urbanised district of Ahmedabad accounted for the highest number of malnourished children (56,941), followed by tribal-dominated Dahod (51,321), Banaskantha (48,866), Panchmahal (31,512), Kheda (28,800), Surat (26,682) and Bhavnagar (26,128), Babariya stated in written replies giving the data till end-2023.

In one year, as many as 9,634 malnourished children were added in Kheda district, which was the highest in Gujarat.

Kheda was followed by Ahmedabad (3,516 children), Bharuch (1,584) and Valsad (1,335). Barring these four districts, the number of malnourished children declined in other districts during one year ending in December 2023.

The minister said the state government is taking various steps to end malnutrition.

Children in the age group of 3 to 6 years are given hot breakfast and lunch at anganwadis (child care centres). In addition, fruits are given to children twice a week, said Babariya.

For children in the age group of six months to three years, the department provides seven packets of 'Bal Shakti' take-home ration each weighing 500 grams, 10 packets to 'severely underweight' kids of 3 to 6 years, and four food packets to 'underweight' children, the minister stated.

The state government also provides double-fortified salt, fortified oil as well as wheat flour to anganwadi children and their mothers to tackle malnutrition, she added. PTI PJT NSK

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